Accused Florida airport shooter Esteban Santiago told investigators that he spoke with ISIS terrorists in “jihadi chat rooms” and carried out the deadly Jan. 6 attack on behalf of ISIS, authorities said Tuesday during a bond hearing.
Santiago, 26, practiced firing his semiautomatic handgun at a range in Alaska during the months before he allegedly killed five people and wounded six others at Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport, FBI agents testified, according to The Orlando Sentinel.
“At various points…he said he carried out the attack because of government mind control,” prosecutor Ricardo Del Toro said. “But he later said he did so because of [ISIS]…after participating in jihadi chat roms.”
Santiago had initially told officials he was a victim of mind control after he was arrested without incident following the shooting. He had also claimed the government was controlling his mind in November, when he walked into an Alaska FBI office and said he was being made to watch terrorist propaganda. After that episode, Santiago was briefly hospitalized for mental health problems, but doctors said he was stable and released him.
He was on no psychiatric drugs, agents said, only taking anti-anxiety medication and an herbal supplement to aid with sleep.
Santiago has not been formally charged, but is due back in court Jan. 30.